May 20, 2008

I remember the days you could walk into a health food store and see mostly bins of bulk cereals and grains. The original Erewhon in Los Angeles even had sawdust on the floor. The vibe was blessedly laid back; you felt like it was OK to let your hair down, however long it was.

Decades later, I still feel happily at home in health-food stores, and that’s especially true at Mother’s Market & Kitchen. The four existing Mother’s happen to be Behind the Orange Curtain—that is, in Orange County, California. The shock wears off once you realize where these Mother’s are located: in Costa Mesa, which has a Tony Award–winning regional theater; Irvine, a college town; Huntington Beach, aka Surf City; and Laguna Woods, just inland from artsy Laguna Beach. I go to the Mother’s Market & Kitchen in Laguna Woods, where my mother lives.

I always look forward to browsing the aisles of the Mother’s Market and ordering multigrain flapjacks with wild Maine blueberries when I sit down to eat in Mother’s Kitchen. A couple of weeks ago, stopping for brunch while driving to Coronado, I noticed a variation of my usual Ma’s Flap Jacks on the menu: Blue Corn Flaps. I was intrigued. VT ran a news blurb back in March (“Mo’ Better Blues”) about how a study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture showed that blue corn tortillas were higher in protein and lower on the glycemic scale than white corn varieties. I bucked tradition and ordered the Blue Corn Flaps.

They were amazing: subtly nutty, and scrumptiously crisp around the edges. More exotic than Ma’s Flap Jacks, but just as wholesome.

Traditions evolve, after all.